Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sarah Bond - Archaeology Career Interview

Sarah Bond digging at Morgantina
30th October 2012: We caught up with Archaeologist Sarah Bond to talk to her about her career so far...
Where did you graduate and what are you doing now?
I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia and graduated with a double major in Classics and History with a minor in Archaeology. They don't allow three majors at UVA, but I finished all requirements for the Archaeology degree, having worked at the native american site of Monasukapanough near Charlottesville for my field school, then doing a season at Morgantina in central Sicily (near to Piazza Armerina) with Mac Bell, before working as a site supervisor at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. I also worked in the archaeology lab at UVA and on the Astor Collection—a collection of Native American artifacts once held by the Astor Hotel in NY.

After undergrad, I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel hill to do my graduate work with Richard Talbert. It was a tough decision to leave archaeology technically and transition to ancient history, but I found that epigraphy (the study of inscriptions) allowed me to still utilize material culture heavily and be a historian slash archaeologist. I still returned to Morgantina to dig while in graduate school and worked at the Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg as an intern. I graduated in May 2011 with a dissertation on disreputable tradesmen (funeral workers, criers, entertainment organizers) under my belt and did a post-doc at Washington and Lee University before heading on to Marquette. I am currently the Late Antique historian here at Marquette University. I specialize in epigraphy, commerce, and social history—but also teach Medieval Latin through the Sunoikisis consortium through the Center for Hellenic Studies. My book manuscript involves a deeper look into pollution, touch, smell, and their effect on the status of tradesmen in Greco-Roman antiquity. For instance, the stigmatization of tanners or minters—two very smelly and low-status trades.

When you graduated were you looking for a career in archaeology?
When I graduated from UVA, I did not know what department I would end up in—I just knew I need to go to graduate school. I applied to Classics departments, History, and Archaeology. I always figured that if it didn't work out, I would work at Monticello for longer or work for a CRM firm. All I knew was that I needed a graduate education to be able to publish and to do something I love: teaching. I also liked working with the actual artifacts from antiquity rather than focusing only on literature. Since I was a wee gal growing up in southwest Virginia, I had wanted to be an archaeologist, but, as it turns out, there are many ways to be one! Digital archaeology, for instance, is a new way that archaeology is branching out into different media. It is an exciting time to be an archaeologist, for sure, and the definition is broadening.  

What has been the greatest success in your career so far?
I think my biggest success was just being lucky enough to actually get a tenure track job wherein I do what I love every day. I feel incredibly fortunate for this opportunity. I need to go pour some wine or honey into the ground and erect a votive offering in recompense, I suppose.  

Who's your favourite archaeologist?
Good question! Without doubt it is the amazing and indefatigable Charlotte Roueché. She is an epigrapher and archaeologist of the highest caliber who has vast knowledge of both archaeological sites (e.g. Aphrodisias) and history (all the way from Greece to Byzantium). She is also a model for women within the field in that she has accomplished so much (along with many others) at a high level of excellence--and made the path for other female archaeologists and historians that much easier. She is a trailblazer in the field of digital epigraphy and the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) formatting of inscriptions, but above all: she is a nice person. She remains unpretentious, responsive, and kind—a paradigm we should all try to encapsulate, am I right?

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